Pay fight goes on in departments

The fight for a better pay deal for members can continue at delegated (departmental) level in 2018. However it is clear that the union must boost its organising in order to beat the government’s anti-strike law.  

PCS did not reach the 50% turnout required by law in its strike ballot, and therefore will not be taking national (cross-civil service) industrial action this year. But the union’s National Executive has made it clear that the “important route” of department-level action is still possible and will be “fully supported”.

One potential area for action is at the Ministry of Justice, where members are currently being balloted on a pay offer from their employer, with a recommendation to reject it.

Across the union, national pay ballot turnout figures by employer have been provided by Electoral Reform Services (ERS) and the details shared with our senior group reps.  

There are areas where the 50% threshold was beaten, and this information can be used as leverage in negotiations. It indicates where there is support for a further ballot for strike action at delegated level.

However, it’s clear that, throughout the union, action plans must be developed in all branches and groups to build on the momentum from this summer, strengthen our organisation where it’s needed, and prepare for a future national ballot. Plans must prioritise identifying more reps and PCS Advocates, recruiting more members and creating a union workplace culture.

Where PCS has “lots of reps on the ground and lots of people having conversations with their members, the turnouts are really high”, Mark Serwotka told members via Facebook last month.

What’s happening at the Ministry of Justice?

More than 1,000 new members have been recruited in the MoJ over the last few weeks. Moreover, more than 200 members have been identified in the department as being potential new activists.

An “insulting” pay offer, under the department’s Modernising Employment Proposition (MEP), would see staff working longer hours and having their terms and conditions cut in exchange for an un-funded pay increase that averages 11% over five years.

It falls short of the union’s national pay claim and amounts to a pay cut for some. We also believe it’s a step toward more court closures and further attacks on conditions, in the name of creating a more ‘flexible workforce’.

A ballot on the offer closes on 30 August, and the union has recommended a ‘no’ vote. Fellow members in the GMB, FDA and Prospect unions have now rejected the offer in their ballots.

Unless the employer re-enters into serious negotiations on pay – and on related cuts and closures under ‘HMCTS Reform’ – the GEC has agreed to consider a submission for a statutory ballot for industrial action in the MoJ this autumn.

• Do you work in the MoJ? Click here to tell the union how the department’s MEP plans would affect you.

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